Through a sensitive use of a wide variety of imaginative and didactic texts, Ruth Karras shows that while prostitutes as individuals were marginalized within medieval culture, prostitution as an institution was central to the medieval understanding of what it meant to be a woman. This important work will be of interest to scholars and students of history, women's studies, and the history of sexuality.
From the book's title to its conclusion, Karras emphasizes that control of women's independence, much more than sexuality, was at stake in the unending insistence on the shameful nature and image of women who were not "safely under the dominion of any one man -- husband, father, master."...This book makes a significant contribution to our appreciation of the social and cultural history not of prostitutes alone, but of all women in medieval England. -- Clarissa Atkinson, American Historical Review